Staircases

Both the National Museum of Iceland and the National Library have what I would call obvious stairways. As soon as you walk in the front door, there they are straight ahead. Of course at the National Library, one has to choose if one walks up the set to the left or to the right, whereas at the National Museum, it is one semicircular incline. But in both cases they are solid, formidable staircases.

Today on campus I was in Kroeger Hall, where the Hearst Museum of Anthropology is, and at the University Library. And I was realizing both of these buildings have an entirely different staircase ethic than the one I encountered at intellectual buildings in Iceland. Both of those buildings have "floating staircases", huge spiral staircases four stories high that are not attached to any walls. And both are tucked away into the interior of the building. For the library, it is the central architectural feature around which most of the library is organized. And it is totally cool.

Here is the staircase in the library, when the "flying books" art installation was in place.
Of course it is also a bit dizzying looking up at it from the bottom floor, with no supports from beneath and no supports from the wall, just one central column holding it all together, but I guess that is the magic of math and engineering and good architecture.

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